If you're cursing Winter Storm Juno today for a blast of frosty weather, even from the comfort of toasty surroundings, then take your hat off to Evan Lang, a Richmond resident who represents perhaps the most awe-inspiring of alternative transportation users.
Unlike most of us, Lang is a rain-or-shine bicycle commuter.
Who in their right mind would choose to pedal through frigid air when they have an internal-combustion engine, a warm seat, coffee in the cup holder and a little radio news? A 23-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University student who prefers his bike to his car, that's who.
“I see everything on the bike,” Lang says. “It’s a totally different type of awareness. I have driven to class just once in five years.”
Lang’s motivation is partly pragmatic, a choice of one convenience over another. “Parking is the biggest factor,” he says. “I never have to look for a spot or worry about getting towed. Also, I have road rage in a car, which I don't experience on a bike.”
Well, OK, so there's that.
For Brantley Tyndall, the Bike Walk RVA community outreach coordinator, the morning ride to work is a welcome way to greet the day.
“I love winter commuting,” he notes in an email interview. “The fresh air is nice. Riding my bike in fresh snow is really beautiful.”
Tyndall's bike is his exclusive form of personal transportation, so he's well-versed in gearing up for all conditions. He offers this advice: “Lots of light layers. Also, all wool, all the time. A scarf or neck gaiter is a game changer. If you aren't riding with fenders yet, get some.”
Ready to give it a try? How about once a week? I dare you. I also find that I am exhilarated by the bracing air — and energized by the feeling that drivers are, in some secret way, admiring me for my pluck.
“Just do it,” Lang says. “You'll warm up. By the time you get there, you will definitely be warm!”
Matt Crane is a former professional cyclist and writer who lives in Richmond's Manchester District. He works with the local bike-focused organizations Richmond Cycling Corps and Richmond 2015.